Celebrate June Dairy Month with Dan Brick, a dairy farmer from Greenleaf, Wis.  

Sustainability is key to a bright future at Brickstead Dairy. With 1,200 acres of crops and 1,000 cows, clean water, healthy soil and profitability are the three pillars that help the farm be successful 

Dan’s great-great grandfather migrated from Ireland and started the dairy in 1848. Dan is the fifth generation to Farm at Brickstead Dairy and has been running the farm since he graduated from high school in 1992. He is hopeful that his children will be the sixth generation to do the same. 

Dan’s passion is the dairy cows. He works closely with his herdsman and consulting team to manage the health of his herd.  

What does sustainability mean on a dairy farm? 

To Dan, sustainability means keeping the farm going for generations to come. He recognizes that to be sustainable, the team must be conscious of the environment they are farming in. Being good stewards of the land and community is a priority at Brickstead Dairy.  

Dan partners with experts to advance conservation efforts on his farm. He regularly meets with a team of consultants who understand his goals and share his vision of a sustainable, profitable future. The team helps Dan decide which cover crops to plant and what new conservation practices to try. 

How do farms keep water clean? 

Dan protects water resources around the farm by doing as little tillage as possible. Cover crops have also been key to retaining water in their fields.  

“When those things are in check, the rest will take care of itself,” shared Dan. 

Farmers use manure as a valuable fertilizer. When Dan spreads manure on his fields, he knows the cover crops will help to absorb the nutrients into the soil.  

What are the benefits of sustainable farming? 

Dan recognizes to be sustainable, you have to be efficient with your resources. One of his goals is to keep operating costs low.  

Clean water is a constant goal at Brickstead Dairy. By continuing to experiment with cover crops and implement new conservation practices, Dan and his team will continue to keep the water around their farm and throughout their watershed clean. 

At Brickstead Dairy, sustainable practices in the field have developed healthier soil that ultimately grows a healthier crop. Feeding those healthier crops to the cows has led to better cow health and increased milk production at Brickstead.  

How are dairy cows sustainable? 

Dairy cows are the ultimate recyclers. Cows consume food that humans are not able to digest and turn those ingredients into high-quality, nutritious milk. They are great consumers of byproducts, or leftovers from food production, that they also convert into delicious dairy products.  It is a circular system on a dairy farm – cows eat feed and turn it into manure used to fertilize crops that are harvested and fed to the cows and the cycle starts over again.